A new church has a unique quality that attracts worshippers, says the Rev. Shane Branecky.
And the strong start that Community Bible Church, opened by Branecky and co-pastor Tyler Press 16 months ago, has made is a good example, he said.
Meeting at 10 a.m. Sunday at Buice Elementary School at 1800 E. 87th St., its average December attendance was 75 people, sparking optimism that Odessa, already a city of about 120 churches, is seeing the advent of another.
“Tyler and I had just come back from a conference where they said the most effective way to reach people was to start a new church,” Branecky said. “There is a different way of thinking because, coming up off the ground, you have an entrepreneurial mindset, not only with the pastors but also with the people.
“Everyone has to put in a little more blood, sweat and tears. We have a crew that comes in and sets up, turning that cafeteria into a worship space. We bring things from our garages and bedrooms. We have a backdrop of Jesus that’s eight feet tall and 15 feet wide.”
Branecky, who taught physical education and coached at the Compass Academy Charter School until becoming a full-time minister last fall, and Press, an assistant principal at Permian High School, are Odessa natives who graduated from Permian and Odessa high schools, respectively, in 2001.
Branecky, who preaches two-thirds of the sermons, graduated from Dallas Baptist University and attended Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif. He and his wife Natalie have two children. Press and his wife Alicia, who is principal at Buice Elementary, have three children.
Branecky said there are no plans as yet to construct a church building. “We stick to the core values of grace, community and Gospel,” he said.
“We believe grace is for all people and that our lives can be improved with more grace through a personal relationship with Jesus. We are all created to do life with other people, and the Gospel means being active in the community.
“We’re a non-denominational church that caters to young families with children,” said Branecky, who also taught science at Ector Middle School and was a student pastor at the First United Methodist Church.
Church member Sara Grohman said Branecky, whom she has known since middle school, “has such a drive and such a feeling for others.
“Shane has never been one of those selfish guys,” Grohman said. “He was one of those old souls even as a kid, and I always knew he was going to have an amazing profession and be in a leadership role. When he and Tyler began Community Bible Church, we felt we truly belonged and had found our church home.
“Their preaching doesn’t veer from the word of the Bible or the Gospel, but they make it relatable to our day and the times of here and now.”